Emerging from winter

No matter that winter began with a delightful session of warm temperatures, ice, snow, and cold in recent weeks have soured the gardener’s mood. Though hellebores and snowdrops appeared through mounds of melting snow in full bloom, it is a single warm afternoon that has improved his disposition.

Hellebores that were flowering before being buried in the blizzard have emerged with flowers intact. Hellebores that were not flowering before the snow are progressing as usual, and all will show color into early spring.

Hellebores that were flowering before being buried in the blizzard have emerged with flowers intact. Hellebores that were not flowering before the snow are progressing as usual, and all will show color into early spring.

An extended stroll through the garden, the first in weeks, reveals the emerging spring. Though several weeks of chilly temperatures are expected before spring arrives in earnest, the garden is stirring. Leaf and flower buds swell with the longer days, even through the coldest stretch of this winter.

Pussy willows flower dependably in late February in the garden.

Pussy willows flower dependably in late February in the garden.

While the afternoon is warming into the fifties, the ground remains partially frozen below a sloppy surface, enabling the stroll without sinking deep into the saturated soil. Several weeks without rain or snow are needed before the low lying rear garden is dry enough to visit without wearing rubber coated muck boots.

Catkins of contorted filbert (Corylus) develop in late winter.

Catkins of contorted filbert (Corylus) develop in late winter.

Work on the garden will not begin until the frozen ground has thawed and the last mounds of snow have melted in the shaded front garden. There are no grand plans for the early spring, though inspiration often arrives suddenly. The routine chores to clean winter weeds and cut back perennials and grasses will require labor through several weekends in March, if weather cooperates. This afternoon, I am anxious to begin.

Colorful flower buds on variegated Coast leucothoe bring the promise flowers in early spring.

Colorful flower buds on variegated Coast leucothoe bring the promise flowers in early spring.

 

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